Azerbaijan to launch 15 agro-parks in 2018
By Sara Israfilbayova
Fifteen agro-parks are planned to be launched in Azerbaijan in 2018. NFES Executive Director Shirzad Abdullayev made the remarks at a press conference on April 18 in Baku.
“The first stage of work has already been completed on three agro-parks. Furthermore, construction and installation work is underway at 26 agro-parks, while territory planning is underway at 16 agro-parks,” Abdullayev said.
He underlined that overall, work on creation of agro-parks in Azerbaijan is proceeding at a high pace.
In total, 45 agro-parks with a total area of 191,800 hectares are planned to be created in the country's 30 regions, according to Abdullayev.
“In this regard, the government is rendering great support. In total, state funds worth 311.8 million manats ($183.41 million) were invested in the creation of agro-parks, while soft loans worth 107.6 million manats ($63.25 million) were allocated for creation of 15 agro-parks, investment incentive documents were issued for 24 projects worth 107.6 million manats ($63.25 million)), implemented in 14 agro parks,” said Abdullayev.
Issue of soft loans
The executive director said that NFES issued soft loans worth over 50 million manats ($29.4 million) to 135 entrepreneurs in the first quarter of 2018.
He said these funds were allocated for implementation of projects worth 357 million manats ($210 million). Their implementation will help create 5,145 new work places, according to him.
“Some 74 percent of this amount was issued in the Azerbaijani regions and 26 percent of loans were issued in Baku,” Abdullayev said, adding that compared to the first quarter of 2017, the number of financed projects increased by 31 percent, their total cost grew 5.8 times, the amount of allocated loans increased by 2.3 times, and the number of jobs created at their expense grew 12.4 times.
He noted that since the beginning of the Fund’s activity, entrepreneurs received soft loans worth 2.1 billion manats ($1.2 billion)
“These funds were allocated to about 35,000 entrepreneurs for the implementation of projects worth 4.7 billion manats,” he added. “Up to 160,000 new jobs were created at the expense of these loans. Some 71 percent of soft loans were allocated for the development of agricultural sector, 29 percent of soft loans were allocated for the development of industry and other spheres. This is while 93 percent of the projects were financed through medium and small loans.”
He noted that in 2017, the NFES started financing investment projects at the expense of the funds returned.
“In general, more than half of the loans issued since the beginning of the Fund’s activity (53 percent, or 1.1 billion manats($647.06 million)) were financed at the expense of the returned funds, and the rest amount of the loans were financed at the expense of the state budget,” Abdullayev said.
Further he stressed that NFES plans to expand support for cotton and tobacco producers in the country, adding that the NFES is in talks with Aqrarkredit, Azerbaijan’s non-banking credit organization (NBCO), regarding the issuance of loans at a reduced interest rate to cotton and tobacco producers.
“We are issuing loans at an annual interest rate of six percent, but we want to allocate loans with even lower interest rates to entrepreneurs,” said Abdullayev, further noting that if the talks are successful, a tripartite protocol of intent will be signed.
The NFES, the Center for Simplified Support to Family Businesses (ABAD) and Azer Turk Bank signed a similar protocol of intent on cooperation on March 6.The NFES supports through soft loans the investment projects of small businesses that work with ABAD, according to the document.
Azer Turk Bank, for its part, acts as an authorized bank through which these loans are provided to entrepreneurs. The annual interest rate on soft loans, which entrepreneurs receive, is up to 4 percent.
Besides, in March, the NFES, the Union of Sugar Producers of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijan Industrial Bank also signed a protocol of intent on cooperation, as part of which sugar beet producers started receiving loans worth 7 million manats ($4.1 million). The annual interest rate on the loans is three percent.
Touching upon the exports Abdullayev said that Azerbaijan plans to begin exporting hatchery eggs to Russia and Iran.
He underlined that if earlier Azerbaijan could not fully provide itself with this product, today the products manufactured in the country are sufficient not only to ensure domestic demand, but also for export.
Stressing that the foundation pays great attention to the creation of modern poultry farms, the Executive Director mentioned that since the beginning of its activity, the NFES has provided preferential loans worth 138.4 million manats ($81.41 million) to create 40 poultry farms with a total cost of 283.2 million manats ($166.59 million).
The main goal of the Fund, which was established in 1992, is to provide preferential loans from the state budget for small and medium business, in order to develop entrepreneurship in the Republic of Azerbaijan.
So far, entrepreneurs have been granted concessional loans in the amount of 2.1 billion manats ($1.23 billion). These funds were given to about 35,000 entrepreneurs for the implementation of projects worth 4.7 billion manats ($2.76 billion).
About 71 percent of concessional loans were directed to the development of the agricultural sector, 29 percent-to the development of industry and other spheres.
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